1. Turnover Trouble
1. Turnover Trouble
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen has been responsible for four turnovers in the past two games (three interceptions, fumble). To make matters worse, two of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns by Texas A&M and Florida.
So the sophomore said eliminating the mistakes is critical as the Razorbacks prepare to play 14th-ranked South Carolina on Saturday.
"Those kind of things don’t help our offense," Allen said. "Any time you get interceptions or a fumble like that it’s tough. It puts our defense in a hard position. It makes offense that much harder for us trying to catch up.
"You can’t give the ball to any team in the SEC especially. They’re going to make you pay for it and that’s exactly what Florida did (last week)."
The game changed when Allen threw an interception that was returned 42 yards for a touchdown by Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy. It gave the Gators a 10-7 lead.
Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney also believes the mistake "shook" Allen up as well. Chaney said it made the quarterback hesitant to cut the ball loose.
"It’s so easy to say clean the slate, go to the next play," Chaney said. "But as human beings, it’s tough to forget things that scarred you. And I don’t care, we can all look at any part of our lives and behavior is behavior. When you get a scar, you usually remember those elements of that scar. For a quarterback, you can’t. You’ve got to let it go and it was tough on him. He feels the pain of that as we all do."
Allen’s next chance comes against a South Carolina defense that has taken advantage of Arkansas turnovers the past three seasons.
The Gamecocks have scored a defensive touchdown in each game during that stretch against the Hogs. All came off former quarterback Tyler Wilson’s turnovers.
Safety D.J. Swearinger returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown in South Carolina’s 38-20 win last season. Defensive end Devin Taylor had a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 44-28 loss in 2011. Byron McKnight turned a Wilson fumble into a one-yard touchdown in Arkansas’ 41-20 win in 2010.
Allen and Chaney don’t want the touchdown streak to continue Saturday.
"We’ve got to clean that part up," Chaney said. "For two weeks in a row we’ve spotted our opponent too many points."
2. Swanson: "I feel good."
Arkansas center Travis Swanson practiced Tuesday and was optimistic about returning to the starting lineup for Saturday’s game.
"I’ve made a lot of progress," Swanson said. "Give credit to (trainer) Matt Summers and the whole training staff. They’ve done a great job."
Swanson left the Florida game after suffering a left knee injury in the second half. Bielema said the senior tweaked his medial collateral ligament and was held out because he couldn’t push off while testing his knee on the sideline.
Swanson said it was frustrating to watch the rest of the game while backup Luke Charpentier played in his place. But he expects to be ready for South Carolina.
"It was kind of a scary thing because I had never been in that situation before," Swanson said of the knee injury. "At that time it didn’t feel right and I had to come off to the sideline but the days with treatment it feels great now."
3. South Carolina Changes?
South Carolina has endured some defensive struggles early this season, ranking 10th in the SEC in scoring defense (25.8 points). So coach Steve Spurrier hinted that it will lead to some changes when the Gamecocks play the Razorbacks on Saturday.
"We’re going to have some different defensive guys out there," Spurrier said. "I don’t think we’ll announce it until later in the week or something. But, yeah, we’ve got to try some new guys. That’s coaching. First guy’s not playing very well, give the next guy a chance. How can he do much worse? So we’re going to experiment around."
Arkansas has had plenty of success scoring against the Gamecocks the past seven seasons. The Razorbacks are averaging 33.3 points a game during that stretch, which includes five wins. Arkansas also has averaged 41.7 points in its past three home games against the Gamecocks (2007, 2009 and 2011).
"They’ve always scored a bunch of points on us out there it seems like most of the time," Spurrier said. "Hopefully we can bring a defense. If we don’t bring a defense, I don’t know if we can score 40 or so out there. I doubt it."
4. Back at Tackle
Offensive lineman Brey Cook played tackle throughout high school and during his first two seasons at Arkansas. So Cook welcomed the move back to the position two weeks ago after opening the season at guard.
"I feel at home at tackle, but if they need me at guard, I’d love to play that as well," Cook said. "But tackle is a definitely a good fit for me.
Cook impressed the coaches during his first game back at the position in a reserve role against Texas A&M. It was enough to help him bump sophomore Grady Ollison from the starting lineup against the Gators.
"I believe I had some success Saturday, and I look forward to coming out and continuing to improve my game," Cook said.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau